Apprentice training boosted in Portsmouth with new £9m Royal Navy hub

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones (second from left) attends the opening of the new site
First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones (second from left) attends the opening of the new site
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BUSINESSES looking to give young apprentice engineers some of the world’s best training are to be given a boost thanks to a new £9m Royal Navy workshop.

The hi-tech facility – known as the Thunderer workshop – is located in the heart of Portsmouth Navy Base and has been handed over to the navy by defence giant, BAE Systems.

Work began on the site in 2015 and is expected to save the Ministry of Defence (MoD) more than £1m a year.

And the new hub will also boost apprenticeship opportunities in the region, offering small and medium-sized businesses the chance to send their staff to receive world-class tuition from experienced trainers.

BAE co-ordinated the £9m renovation of the former steel production hall to create the new centre, which consolidates a number of mechanical workshop trades under one roof to deliver efficiencies in maintenance, running costs and operational performance.

The whole project has been jointly funded by BAE, the MoD and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (SLEP).

James Davis, strategic development director for BAE Systems maritime services, said: ‘In light of current financial pressures this investment would not have been possible using traditional funding routes, but through a partnership between the MoD, SLEP and BAE Systems, we have enabled this project to proceed.

‘In addition to providing the capability required to support the Portsmouth flotilla, including the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, we are able to offer the facility and training opportunities to local companies, helping them invest in the vital skills this region needs.

‘Given the benefits this project has brought the naval base and the local area, I would like to think the project could provide a “blueprint” for wider investment across the base.’

The project forms part of a one of the largest investment in workshop facilities at the military hub in a generation.

It began with the renovation of the skills development Centre, officially re-opened by the then-

Second Sea Lord in 2016, which is where BAE Systems apprentices learn the crafts required to

support the Royal Navy’s ships.

The Thunderer workshop project forms part of the wider Portsmouth 2030 programme, which

identifies key improvements to provide a safe, resilient and efficient naval base to meet the future needs of the Senior Service.

Captain Iain Greenlees, head of naval base infrastructure, said: ‘The combined workshop facility will not only enable the provision of effective engineering support for the Portsmouth flotilla, but also signifies our commitment to the investment in our people and future generations of engineers.’